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Why did I cheat on my boyfriend when everything is so perfect? What is wrong with me?

Tagged as: Cheating, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (31 May 2010) 18 Answers - (Newest, 11 June 2010)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

First of all let me start by saying that I already am aware of what I have done, I am not looking for comfort or criticism - what I have come here for is help or insight into my behaviour.

I cheated on my boyfriend, I met someone through work last week and spent the night with him. I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 9 months now, we are about to go on holiday together and we have talked about moving in together. I honestly do feel sick to the bottom of my stomach because of what I have done, I know it is a truly awful thing and the worst thing is I still dont really know why I did it. My boyfriend and I are incredibly happy, we are in love, everything is seemingly perfect.

So what I am here to ask is why would I do this? What is so wrong with me that has led me to do this? I cant believe that I would hurt my boyfriend like this, he is a wonderful man and has never done anything wrong in our relationship, so why would I be so heartless to do such a thing?

I will admit I have had a kind of troubled past which has influenced my behaviour around men - I was bullied for 4 years, 5 days a week in fact for those 4 years by a group of 6 boys in my school. And they would bully me about my appearance, so much so that it lead me to a very dark place which I wont go into in detail on here, but lets just say I tried to end my life a few times, and self harm was a problem for many years. Because of the constant driving down of my self esteem, I came to the point where I could no longer see myself ever being happy, and that no man could ever find me attractive. So when I did get into my late teens, I ended up feeling the need to be validated by every man that took an interest in me, I needed to feel wanted.

So back to this incident last week - the man who I cheated with, well I had just met him, we spent the day together - we were drinking (not that it matters much) and he basically made me feel perfect. Now I have studied psychology for some time and I am trying to figure out what has made me do this, I need to know why but I am struggling to answer that question. I think feeling "wanted" is a big part to play, but why when I know my boyfriend loves me would I find a stranger wanting me more exciting? I cant wait to get married and have children, so why would I ever throw that chance away for a night with a man who was really into me?

I will admit that I feel the "passion" in my relationship has decreased a lot recently - my boyfriend used to make me feel so sexy at the beginning like no man ever has before, but now it has eased off a lot - but that is not his fault, it is bound to happen after a few months. So is the reality that I need a continuously passionate relationship? Are my expectations so high that it means I will never be happy because no man can ever keep up with this need I have to feel wanted?

And to make it worse I am now consumed with the memory of this night, feeling that connection, that spark with someone again is overwhelming and I cannot get it out of my head.

Sorry for the length of the post, thank you for reading and I hope someone can shed some light on my behaviour. If anyone has any theories on why I am this way, or what I can do to stop it that would be most appreciated. I dont want to hurt anyone, I dont want to cause anyone pain and I cant stand myself for being this way.

View related questions: bullied, cheated on my boyfriend, my ex, on holiday, self esteem, spark

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 June 2010):

I have had a similar childhood experience as you have had and I can tell you that it has played a HUGE role in my self confidence, even though this happened to me when I was in 6th grade and it was years ago.

I have personally never slept with another man while I was in a relationship but I have come close. I made out with a guy in a bar once when I was drunk during my current relationship. I even had a few other close calls, though I told my boyfriend about them(after I found out he cheated on me!).

Anyway, everything was perfect with us too (at least at that time). I'll tell you why I personally felt the urge to do so even though I was in this seemingly perfect relationship. I wanted to feel attractive. As twisted as it sounds, ever since I was bullied in the 6th grade, I've had terrible self esteem. And so I try and try to prove to myself that I'm sexy, I wear revealing clothing, flirt, do everything I can just to see that men are attracted to me. It makes me feel better about myself. Even though in the back of my mind I know I'm just disrespecting my body and character.

Sometimes when you're in a relationship with someone who loves you, as horrible as this is, you almost feel like they're obligated sleep with you because they love you and not because they "want" you. But when you have fragile self esteem and problems like me, you need some other kind of confirmation. Just to feel good about yourself. I think that's probably the case with you as well, considering our cases are so similar.

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A female reader, hpoco Switzerland +, writes (31 May 2010):

hpoco agony auntMaybe your need to feel appreciated and sexy is disproportionate, because of the years you were bullied. In relationships there are times you feel more appreciated/passionate and times you feel less so, but perhaps you equate desire/passion with love. In my opinion, its certainly a part of a relationship, but not always the top priority. Maybe as the desire has dipped in your relationship, you feel less loved and are sending out signals indicated you need some extra "love" and this guy just picked up on it.

Also, maybe some deep-seated self-esteem issues left you unprepared for the possibility of even being ABLE to cheat on someone. Maybe you feel so lucky to have one guy love you, it never occurred to you that someone else might take an interest and try to move in. Cheating is something you have to consciously avoid. You can make many small decisions to prevent it. If you disregard it as a possibility than you won't be prepared and aware enough to stop something like this from happening.

I think it sounds like a one-off thing for you, that you regret and won't let happen again. Now that you are aware its possible, I'm sure you'll be more vigilant in the future, to avoid feeling all the horrid guilt and regret.

As far as the state of your current relationship, I don't know what to say other than good luck. I hope the passion comes back and things work out for you.

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A female reader, bluebells United Kingdom +, writes (31 May 2010):

well everybody likes attention but most don't take it further than a bit of flirting. but the excitment can be amazing that it just leads to cheating. .

i know you say things are perfect with your boyfriend but is it perfect? is it still as fun as when you frist met maybe you need to spice it up a little bit?

It's good you feel bad about it, it shows that you know it was the wrong thing to do, some people really get off on it.

But the thing you have you have to ask youself now is are you going to tell him can you live with the guilt?

before you tell him though or think about telling him you really need to work out why you did it?

and what are your intentions with this man? are you wanting to see him again? even just as a friend?

maybe write your feelings down and read them back to mke sence of them

don't beat yourself up over this though. everybody makes mistakes :)

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (31 May 2010):

CindyCares agony aunt I offer a very simple, basic explanation. Often the simplest explanation is the closest to truth.

You cheated on your bf because deep down you are not so enthusiastic about your wonderful bf - at least sexually.

It may be that the relationship is perfect for you but he,as a sexual being, is not.

9 months and the spark is missing already ? No, this is far from normal- at least in a statistic sense. You don't even live together yet, don't spend every night in the same bed, have got no kids no. 9 months or so, in fact, is a golden period for the sexual part of a relationship,because the two partners have come to trust and know each other and feel comfortable expressing fully their sexuality ,but the story is relatively new and fresh and exciting and there is still so much to experiment and discover together.

Maybe you love your bf, you appreciate him and all- but he does not really excite you. At least,not as much as you need.

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A female reader, Carrot2000 United States +, writes (31 May 2010):

Carrot2000 agony auntI want to live like a sailor...

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A male reader, bharat mehta India +, writes (31 May 2010):

bharat mehta agony auntPerhaps this knowledge can help: Sexual spark or attraction is common is always there...but what intellectual human mind need to feel is spiritual spark...once human mind feel spiritual spark..then he gained the ability to have self control...greater the self control, greater the spiritual all the time truth.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (31 May 2010):

chigirl agony auntWell, I think it is easier to tell you how to prevent this from happening, than it is to tell you why you did it. And thank you for not flaming me, I realize my advice could be a bit harsh.

Everyone of us has an ugly duckling inside. Even me. I probably love myself more than any woman you ever met and come off as conceited, but even I have an ugly duckling inside, I was picked at at school as well by a group of boys who called me ugly. The difference between you and me is that I didn't care too much back then because I knew better. But, I must admit, every now and then feelings of insecurity comes creeping. I believe it is this way with everyone. What you need to do then is to remind yourself of the status quo.

So, what is the status quo? That you are ugly? That you don't get attention from men? That you can't be loved so you must accept whatever any man throws at you and take it fast before he changes his mind? You know as well as me, thats not true.

I bet you are gorgeous and beautiful, most women are. But as I can't see your face and never met you in person, Im guessing. Im guessing this because most ugly ducklings I know grew to become beautiful swans that any man should feel blessed for being with. The status quo is also that you HAVE A BOYFRIEND WHO LOVES YOU (or had, not to burst your bubble but there are only a few people in this world to accepts their partner cheating). That is what you should have reminded yourself of. What did you need this other man for? What could he possibly give you that you didn't already have?

Next time, ask yourself this: what can this man give me that I don't already have? You will see then that it is pointless. Women are looking for love and commitment, not one time admirations that the next night will find another pretty girl to sleep with. How special was that anyway? How special can he possibly have made you feel, how beautiful could he really make you feel, when he can't even stick around and get to know you before he jumps into bed with you, only to search for another one-night-stand the following night.

Yes... what could this man possibly give you? Even if you were single, could this man really give you what you wanted? Remind yourself next time of what you WANT as well. Do you want: a one-night-stand, a brief encounter, a man who sees you as nothing more than fun, a man you will likely never meet again or have a connection with, a man who probably never has and never will care for you?

From reading your post that is not what you want. You already had what you wanted, and what most of us want. So next time remind yourself of what you've got, and remind yourself of what you REALLY want.

My golden rule: if I ever felt the need or desire to be with someone else so much that I'd consider cheating, I would first break up with whomever I am with before pursuing a relationship with someone else. And for most part, that someone else would have been a one night stand with little or no interest in waiting more than the length of the night. So if I ended my relationship for such a man, I would end up alone, because he would have not waited.

And if the man you end your relationship for WANTS to be with you and actually CARES, then he would have waited until you were single.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2010):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Carrott2000 - thank you for your advice, I agree with pretty much everything you say. I really dont believe the spark or honeymoon phase should be over after 9 months, it is still a new relationship and I really dont think anything needs "spicing up" after such a short period of time. And again, I do worry that I could do this again, hence why I have come here for help hoping I could figure out why, which would then lead me to be able to stop it from happening again.

And Chigirl - you are pretty much spot on too. But I guess I just wanted to try and figure out why I lack self control? And how can I learn some self control when deep down I still feel like the ugly duckling who was told every day how ugly I am? I know all the reasons why I should not cheat, I have everything to lose so why did I still go ahead? I know it was entirely selfish, I only have myself to blame but why in this one moment did I become so selfish?

Thanks for all the responses.

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A male reader, LazyGuy Netherlands +, writes (31 May 2010):

LazyGuy agony auntYou are over analysing.

People are stupid and yes that includes women. It doesn't matter how good you think you have it, most people will tend to take it for granted. And then we start doing stupid stuff because we no longer worry about losing it.

I do notice that at no point you mention taking any consequences for your actions. You have not confessed right? sure sign you will do it again. Oh, you feel bad now but that is a thrill by itself. And once you gotten away with it, you will try again.

Basically, what is wrong with you is that you do not consider the consequences of your action or even that there should be consequences (and no, I do NOT mean being found out).

And then one day he will find out, or you will get pregnant or get an STD and then you will loose it all and you will wonder why you were so stupid.

Welcome to the world of people who take things for granted.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2010):

Lots of great answers below, carefully consider those.

It all comes down to you and it's obvious from your question you already know the answer. What you seek here is rationalization of that answer. You know why you did it, you know why you've constantly craved male attention for a long time, you know why you're here craving answers from us and you know why if given the opportunity again you will do this very thing again.

You know that it all comes down to validation, something which we must find in ourselves you seek in others because it was others who took it away from you. This has left you with emotional needs based almost entirely on the need to feel wanted by others.

You spent so long letting yourself be torn down by others that you looked to others to build yourself back up again. You've never learned the proper mechanisims to find self-worth within yourself, you went from one guy to the other and fed off of their initial passion for you.

I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know and please don't take this as criticism but you know you are like this and you still put yourself in the position of getting drunk with a guy knowing full well where it could lead and in that moment you just didn't care, you just had to have that attention and for that moment nothing else mattered.

How do you stop it? Professional help, that's all there is to it. CBT can help a lot, but you need to find a way of gaining validation from yourself, you need to find a way of dealing with your past and moving on and most importantly you must not put yourself in these situations again because frankly you can't trust yourself.

Nobody here can tell you that waht you did was okay, no one here can excuse it by saying that you couldn't help yourself. You're an adult now, you make your own choices, you know very well who you are and how you behave. It is up to you to find a way of changing that because until you do you're going to constantly feel incomplete, needy of passionate interaction and uncomfortable in a loving stable relationship.

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A female reader, Laura1318 Malaysia +, writes (31 May 2010):

Laura1318 agony auntThere are many reasons why women cheat.

Hurt, pain ,loneliness, rejections, unexciting and unsatisfactory relationship, low self esteem, emotional needs not met,lacking attentions and admiration's, revenge and boredom.

You need to work on the relationship and not to have the easy way out by having an affair.

Sometimes , you need to ask yourself, 'Why do you take the risk of losing everything for an affair ?'

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2010):

Firstly you cheated because you wanted to . You made that decision and YOU followed through with it. Secondly you speak of 'love' for your bf. It is nt love perhaps only lust and when that diminished then you craved someone else. If you really really believe you love your bf do the only honourable thing and leave him. He reaaly is a gem isn't he? Then he deserves only the best. Allow him the opportunity to bond and meet the right woman since you are not. You do noit know this stranger yet you gave yourself to him - this means that relationships do not count in your life. I also suggest you get professional counselling to help you sort out the mess you have created. Deep down you know you messed up the only good thing in your life. You will continue down this destructive path if you do not get help.

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A female reader, Carrot2000 United States +, writes (31 May 2010):

Carrot2000 agony auntSorry, I don't buy that the spark has died in your relationship after 9 months and you need to spice things up. Nine years, maybe, but not nine months. And although you regret what you've done, I suspect you are totally capable of doing it again because you thrive on getting positive male attention, no doubt because of the negative experiences you had with boys growing up. For you, male attention is as addictive as a drug; you probably get an adrenaline rush when men admire you, want to talk to you, flirt with you, and to say positive things about you. The problem is not that your boyfriend doesn't give you enough love and attention, the problem is that you need this kind of adoration constantly from men to feel good about yourself.

This need for constant admiration is going to make it difficult for you to sustain a normal, long-term relationship. Most real relationships pass beyond the "adoration" phase within the first year when couples begin to settle down, and this is normal. For you, though, once the honeymoon phase is over you feel compelled to seek comfort in admiration from other men and risk your relationship. Unless a man is willing to devote his life to worshiping at the altar of You, you're going to be unsatisfied.

I'm sure you're well aware that relying on someone else to validate you, especially men you don't know well, is a way to guarantee that you are going to be hurt and hurt others.

You must remember that your experience with boys growing up is not a reflection of who you are; it never was. You don't need men to like you in order to feel valued; if you haven't already, you probably should seek professional help to learn to love yourself and see your own value for ALL that you are. How will anyone else see it if you don't? Joining a women-only therapy group might be a good way for you to get started.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2010):

Lets face it, you need to spice up every now and then. You like it, enjoy it and don't tell your boyfriend yet. Sounds to me like you are already looking for another man to make you happy in life.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (31 May 2010):

chigirl agony auntAlright, I think the reason is simple. You lack self control. Knowing psychology wont help you, get control over yourself is what you need. You blew it with your boyfriend, tell him what happened and let him go.

Try to think less about yourself and consider him more. Your affair has hurt you, yes, but not as much as it has hurt HIM. You did not think about him when you cheated, you thought about yourself, and what pleasure you could have for a brief moment.

So there you go, my honest opinion. I don't believe in fancy deep psychology reasons. The reasons may very well have been there, but there are more reasons NOT to do what you did, and I trust you have the intelligence to understand those reasons as well. Don't treat yourself as a victim of your sub-consciousness. This man you cheated with didnt drug you down, you took a conscious decision to be with him. You decided that THIS is what you wanted. And as I said, my honest opinion: you didn't think about anyone other than yourself.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2010):

Just yesterday I've written an article about cheating, read it if you want.

I think that I felt lust and wanted to know deep inside what it feels like to break the rules for once. As long as you don't consider on doing it again. You know that you've done wrong and you've admitted it. Sometimes we do unexplainable things we don't really want to. This is just how some people are. Look it's in the past now, what's done is done. No use crying over spilled milk. just make sure now that thinks are right for your future. But I'm afraid that you'll have to face the consequences, no bad dead goes unpunished. I wish you all the best.


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A female reader, Emilysanswers United Kingdom +, writes (31 May 2010):

I think you know why this happened.

Your "diet" from your boyfriend has been reduced to boring pasta dishes day after day. This guy offered you chocolate gateaux and you slipped up and took a great big mouthful. Your mistake was letting him take you out and get your drunk. You must have felt the spark when you met him. You have to snuff it out when that happens, not let it grow.

Yes the natural spark of sexiness wears off after a little while when you are with someone, but that's because unfortunately it takes a bit of effort to keep it going. From both sides.

It's not that you NEED validating and no one else does. EVERY SINGLE woman in the world needs to feel sexy. Read some of the other questions on here and see how often the loving but slightly boring husband gets cheated on because the other man "made her feel like a woman again."

Men will stop finding you as sexy when you are there every day in front of them. You are still sexy and they still love you they just forget to keep mentioning it.

So you need to remind him just what an amazing little minx he has on his hands. Dress up and surprise him when he gets home from work. Light some candles one night and put on some nice underwear and call him upstairs. Take him out on "dates" and then tell him he has to take you out the week after. Make sure you get ready separately (and if possible meet him out in town) so he gets the full smack in the face of how awesome you look without seeing you in your control tights with no make up on just before hand.

Men do turn off their predatory function when they become boyfriends, and turn into cuddly teddy bears instead. They need reminding that you still need chasing once in a while.

Whether you tell your boyfriend or not is up to you. It is the RIGHT thing to do and if you don't and he finds out later in the relationship it will make things far worse. But there is a good chance he will split up with you if you tell him so I can't tell you to "talk about it and it will all be fine."

If you tell him, explain that you know it was your fault, and you know it will not happen again as you won't let yourself get into that situation where there is even the temptation.

Then put double the effort him to create the spark again. It can come back, trust me, you just have to trust that it can and not compare him to an impossible memory of perfection. You know that your memories of that night will be far better than it actually was.

Good Luck!! xx

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A female reader, DiamondGirlx United Kingdom +, writes (31 May 2010):

DiamondGirlx agony auntOkay well for starters acknowledging what you have done is wrong means that it was definately a mistake, why you have done it on the other hand i think is just down to abit of excitement, sometimes people do things just to liev on the wild side of life... have you been feeling abit down lately or something? and yes you are right sometimes sex lives in relationships do decrease its just because you get over the 'honeymoon' period as people tend to call it :)

Now even though what you have done is wrong its clear you care about you partner so is suggest that maybe telling him wouldnt be a wise decision i think you need to put it in the back of your mind and keep it locked away there and focus on enjoying life with your partner and if you are feeling that you need to spice it up a little in the bedroom then do it!! It will be awesome for you aswell because you wouldnt feel you have to cheat and that spark you had with that other guy was nothing but fun which needs to be resparked with you current partner...

i havent studied physchology or anything so this is just personal opinions... but take care anyways hope you make the right decision xx

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